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sailing log 2020-06-21: Father’s Day at Ford Lake

for Father’s Day afternoon, my oldest son and I drove down to Ford Lake near Ypsilanti for an afternoon sail.  I’ve sailed at this lake a couple times before (here and here).  when we pulled into the parking lot, there was quite a bit of fishing boats being pulled out at the ramp – I think they maybe had a small fishing tournament that morning (it reeked of fish guts in the parking lot).  but we used my sunfish PVC dolly to just roll our Sunfish and Minifish hulls down through the park grass to the water’s edge and just avoided the busy ramp.  by the time we got out sailing, the boat traffic on the lake was light again – there was one large sailboat off to the west/northwest.  winds were okay, but a bit lighter than I prefer to sail in.

my son T2 was on the Minifish and I sailed the Sunfish.

he’s likely getting too big for the Minifish, but in light winds, he likes to just plop down comfortably in the shallow cockpit of the Minifish and relax.  he might be in a bit of trouble if hit by a big gust of wind, but that never happened this afternoon… at least not enough to flip him over!

after a while of drifting along, I followed suit and sat down in the cockpit of my Sunfish.  I then worked on the top-secret toe grip for mainsheet control.  all the best Sunfish racers are using this grip. 🙂

we sailed for an hour or two – it was a lot of fun despite the light winds.

one thing I regret not getting a picture of was an older gentlemen out in his kayak – it was set up with 2 outriggers and a square-rigged pirate sail, complete with a stuffed parrot sitting up on the upper boom.  and he was dressed appropriately, with pirate clothing and even a hat – that guy took the swash-buckling lifestyle pretty serious!

sailing log 2013-07-11: Ford Lake

on a Thursday night a couple weeks back, I headed down to Ford Lake again for a short evening sail.  Lake Erie was tempting, but a bit too much of a drive since I was starting on the road a bit later than practical for driving all the way there and getting any decent sailing in before dusk.

boat traffic on the lake was light again – there was one large sailboat off to the west/northwest, but I never caught up enough with him to see what it was or to say hello.  winds were okay, but a bit lighter again, mostly from the north, so I set off on a reach more or less west across the lake.  I used my Runkeeper app again with its GPS to track my sailing route (I forgot to turn it off at the end, so a bit of the route is up on land when I walked up to get my Sunfish PVC dolly).

Ford Lake 2013-07-11it was a pleasant evening for a sail, with the decent wind and warm temperatures, and if I set my course just right, the mast of the Sunfish would block most of the direct light from the sun setting in the west, and I might actually see where I was going!

I snapped the picture below with my iPhone after I had turned around and was sailing back towards the east, with the sun shining from behind me.  I’m quite happy with the quality of the pictures that the iPhone is able to take through the plastic case of the dry bag (Micro Whanganui) that I bought.

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I snapped this last picture of the ramp area – my Sunfish is tied off to a dock while I went to get the Sunfish PVC dolly to haul it up to my truck & trailer.

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I only sailed about an hour – making sure I had plenty of time to get the boat out of the water, derigged and up onto my trailer to get back home.  it was a great evening sail, though!

sailing log 2013-06-30: Ford Lake

welp, it was the last day of June, but I finally got out and sailing on my Sunfish this year.  seems like May & June are always a blur of wrapping up the boys’ soccer seasons and end of the school year activities.  excuses, sure, but that’s how my sailing works for now.

it was a pleasant Sunday afternoon: my boys are staying with their grandparents for a couple weeks and my wife was off on a wild goose chase of her own on the other side of Michigan.  so I had the afternoon all to myself, and I decided to test out a new lake in my area.

Ford Lake, near Ypsilanti, is a 975 acre (1.5 square mile) impoundment of the Huron River. the lake was created when a dam was built to provide hydro-electric power to nearby factories for Ford Motor Company.  like most of the dammed up rivers around here, it isn’t incredibly deep, with a maximum depth of about 30 feet.

ford lake map

Ford Lake is home to the Eastern Michigan University sailing club.  I’m not sure how active the club actually is, but I do know that Derrick Fries is a faculty advisor for the sailing club.  Derrick is a Sunfish champion and author of  “Successful Sunfish Racing” and “Start Sailing Right“.

one big difference I noticed with Ford Lake is that there didn’t seem to be any significant amount of weeds – at least in the area I ended up sailing – which is a huge improvement over a lot of the inland lakes in my area.

I used the Ford Lake Park launch ramps on the south side of the lake (marked by the “A” on the map above).  there is a $8 daily fee for boats (annual passes are available).  the ramps are paved and nicely sloped, with several docks to tie up your boat while you park your car and trailer.

ford lake ramps

the sailing that afternoon was quite nice – the breeze wasn’t too strong, but was quite gusty, with shifts catching me by surprise a couple times.  not enough to capsize, but it kept me on my toes!  I think the long and narrow lake plays a bit into the shiftiness of the wind.

here is a screen capture from the video I took with my GoPro camera.

Ford Lake sunfish sailing

overall, it was a great afternoon for sailing, and I had a great time out on the water.  a bit late, but not a bad start to my 2013 sailing season.

Lake Lansing, Michigan

located a few miles east/northeast of Lansing, Michigan is a 485-acre lake named Lake Lansing (strangely enough!).  the lake is home to 2 sailing clubs and a collegiate sailing team:

Lansing Sailing Club (website here) – a couple quotes pulled from their “about” page:

The Lansing Sailing Club is the club for you – regardless if you are an old salt or have never sailed before. It’s the club for you if you own your own boat, are trying to decide what boat to buy or just want to go sailing….

If you don’t sail yet, we will teach you how. If you have kids, they can learn to sail in our Junior Sailing program offered every summer….

LSC’s current club boat fleet includes Sunfish, Lightnings and Lasers.

the Lansing Sailing Club will be hosting the “Lake Lansing Regatta” on June 19, 2010.  the race is open to Sunfish racing, but does not count as a qualifying race for the Sunfish Worlds.

Michigan State University Sailing Center (website here and also here) – the sailing center is part of the intramural sports program at Michigan State University, open to all students, and also open to the public.

The Sailing Center has taught more than 1,500 people how to sail to date through the “learn to sail” classes, about half of which have been MSU students…

The Sailing Center has a wide variety of sailboats, approximately thirty-five, ranging from family day-sailboats to high performance racing sailboats. Student staff learn to repair, refurbish and maintain the boats throughout the entire year. Many of the center’s sailboats were donated.

The Sailing Center offers “learn to sail” classes for adults and youth, the center also offers a variety of affordable memberships that include use of the center’s sailboats.

Michigan State University Sailing Team (website here) – a couple quotes pulled from their “about” page:

The MSU Sailing Club is a group of students engaged in both recreational and competitive sailing. We compete in the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association (MCSA) which is a district within the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA). Each weekend the sailing club competes against other universities in regattas held throughout the midwest and occasionally regattas on the east coast and the southern United States. Membership to the team is open to all Michigan State students with an interest in Sailing.

Don’t know how to sail? No problem, we can teach you! Many of our members have coached junior sailing, so we can provide excellent instruction in learning to sail as well as racing techniques and rules.

the Lansing Sailing Club has put together a custom map using Google Maps, and I have to say it is fantastic!  graphically display showing shallow areas of the lake, the location of the public boat ramp (6271 East Lake Drive, Haslett, MI) and prevailing wind information are all very valuable to someone who is new to the lake.

the Michigan DNR map can be found here (.pdf file).  it is pretty old (as usual), but will give you a general idea of the water depths you’ll encounter while sailing there.  I haven’t tried sailing on Lake Lansing yet, but it’s rapidly climbing up the list of lakes I’d like to check out this summer.

sailing log: October Sunfish sailing

right now it is cold and drizzling rain outside – the kind of weather where you just want to sit inside with the fireplace crackling and have a football game on the TV. but during the early part of October, we had some incredible warm weather days – and one weekend when T2 was home from college for the weekend, he and I took a short drive to sail a bit on Sunday afternoon at nearby Ford Lake. windfinder was predicting wind speeds in the mid-teens and air temps were in the low 80’s.

there were a couple boats out on the lake, but the boat ramp was pretty empty, so we just pulled up our trailer near the ramp, used the PVC dolly to take the Minifish and Sunfish down to the water and rigged up the sails. T2 set off sailing first while I finished getting my Sunfish set up, but I followed him towards the southeast end of the lake – it almost seemed like we had the lake entirely to ourselves.

we both turned around and ran with the wind at our backs for a long stretch, following the lake up towards the northwest. I cut my run shorter than T2 – he elected to go all the way around the small island in the lake. after that we zig-zagged back upwind, tacking back and forth making our way back towards the boat ramp. at one point, I saw a bald eagle soaring along the lake’s coastline! I’ve never seen a bald eagle this far south in Michigan.

I got a nice shot of my newer Allen ratchet block in action, with a gybe-ho sticker on display on my daggerboard.

I recently updated my everyday watch (I broke the glass screen on my apple watch), so opted this time for a Garmin GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 55. overall, I’m loving it – the GPS feature for tracking activities like hiking, biking, etc is fantastic, and the Garmin Connect app is really amazing. and the battery lift is amazing – I can go days, even weeks w/o charging, can sleep with the watch on so that it tracks my sleep patterns, where with the apple watch I had to charge almost every night.

for sailing, I select “other” as the activity on the watch itself, wait for it to sync with GPS, and then hit “go” to track the sailing activity. after completing the sailing and syncing the watch with the Connect app, you can then go into the activity and edit the type from “other” to “sailing”, and it will update the data to show speed in knots and total distance sailed in nautical miles.

is that little switch to knots and nautical miles necessary? no… but I like it. not sure that the calorie count is all that accurate for this activity, though…

usually my September and October weekends are pretty booked with kid’s soccer games and yardwork and house projects, and the weather doesn’t usually cooperate either – so I’m not sure I’ve sailed much past the 1st or 2nd weekend of September very much, and I’m 100% certain I’ve never sailed my Sunfish in October before. it was a great day for it, though, and I’m really glad that T2 and I took advantage of the Indian summer weather to get out on the water one last time for the year.

sailing log: Father’s Day 2021

two years in a row means it is tradition, right? for our 1st sail of the year was Father’s Day, I took all 4 boys down to Ford Lake near Belleville, Michigan. it was a lot of just drifting along, but still a great time with the boys.

my 2nd son chose to fish from the shoreline, but the other 3 boys all joined me out on the water – my oldest son on the Minifish and me on the Sunfish with the 2 youngest sons.

it was a hot and humid day, and sadly very little wind. plenty of jet-ski traffic around us as well.

the lighter winds allowed my youngest son to explore on the Sunfish.

he even pretended to be a pirate and jumped over to board the Minifish and sail with his older brother for a while.

3rd son took the tiller and mainsheet for a while.

all told, a great time. just hope for better winds the next time.

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